In Through the Out Door

Rossi and The Raging Skillet
Rossi and The Raging Skillet

I seem to have done everything ass-backwards in my life.

I ran away from home at 16 to become the next Andy Warhol (only with a vagina). I got tired of the starving artist life and embarked on a bartending career. Things went okay for a few years, but then I grew tired of my regulars throwing up on the bar, so I started cooking for them to soak up all that booze.

Buffalo chicken nachos were their favorite.

Cooking jazzed me up, kinda like painting, so I decided to start cooking for a living.

I took some crappy low-rung cook jobs, but ultimately became head honcho by bulldoodying my way into chef jobs with almost no experience. I would run out and buy every cookbook I could lay my hands on (this was decades before the Internet), then learn how to cook the specialty I had recently alleged to possess.

I also made sure to hire REALLY expert sous chefs, then spent years learning how to cook by paying attention to what they did after I asked them to do it.

“Can I have a beurre blanc, Adam? Hmmm … so that’s how you do it.”

That is what is commonly referred to by my tribe as chutzpah.

Ultimately, I decided to start my own business, mostly because I have a lifelong issue with getting to work before 11 a.m. It’s important to know who you are and are not. I am NOT a morning babe.

So yeah, my motivation for opening my catering company these last 27 years is that I am completely unemployable. It’s also what keeps me running my business.

People who listen to me talking to perspective clients on the phone think I’m trying to scare away business.

“Why try and buy booze from me when you can pick it up for a fourth of the price by buying your own?”

“No. I can’t do raspberry sauce on your lamb. Why? Mostly because it’s gross.”

The truth of the matter is just that. I have a complete inability to lie. You never want me at a poker game or working for the FBI. But since I can’t lie to save my life, why bother to try. I molded my life and my company on blunt honesty. And you know what? Folks like it!

The catering industry is not known for its honesty. We have a boatload of used-car types hungry for commissions who will do anything for a sale. A messy-haired rocker chick who’s telling it like it is, is downright refreshing. That is, of course, as long as you’re not calling her before 11 a.m.

But it wasn’t just cooking that I entered through the exit.

Years after I left home, when I was pushing 30 and knee-deep into my career as queen of alternative (weird) catering, I decided to go to college.

What was my reason? To make me more interesting at a cocktail party? To make my parents happy? To become a teacher?

Nah.

I’ve never needed the degree it took me four years to earn. I don’t have it hanging on my wall, nor do I brag about it, but it makes me happy deep in my kishkas. What better reason is there than that?

I didn’t set out to write a book. I’m a short girl, not in height but in attention span. I write short personal essays, columns, blogs and radio shows. But one day I realized that all those shorty delights could morph into the chapters of a rather zany memoir or two … or three? and I embarked on a journey to become an author.

Lately, perhaps because I’ve become a woman of a certain age, folks are calling me a role model. First off, what the hell does that mean, a certain age?! Nobody says a man of a certain age! I’m 16 and plan on being so until I croak!! Go ask Joan Jett if she’s a woman of a certain age. I dare you.

I certainly didn’t set out to become any kind of a role model. I go to work in faded T-shirts that read things like “Rebel” or “CBGB.” I haven’t put a comb through my hair in a decade. But if you’re looking for a role model for feminism, human rights, decency and a little bit of bad behavior, I’m your babe, babe.

The exit is a perfect ingress. Nobody sees you coming.

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